Why is He Worthy?

January 31, 2022

A huge crowd was following him because they saw the signs that he was performing by healing the sick.
John 6:2

In ethics, or at least the sort of ethics I teach, I generally begin with a discussion of value. I distinguish between extrinsic value and intrinsic value. This simple distinction not only helps us ethically, but helps us theologically.

Things that are of extrinsic value are things that you use to get something else. The most obvious example is money. Money is only valuable because it gets me other things: food, shelter, etc. Things that are of intrinsic value are valuable for their own sake or in and of themselves. That is to say, these things are valuable because of their existence alone and not because they’re used to get other things.

God, certainly, fits into the intrinsic value category. But how often do we see in the Bible, people treating God as if God is only of extrinsic value? “What can you do for me?” “Will you feed me?” “Will you heal me?” To be sure, God delights in giving good gifts to we children (Matthew 7:11), but that’s not what makes God worthy of worship, honor, and praise.

I was very much like the people in John 6:2. I didn’t want Jesus because he was worthy in and of himself, rather I wanted Jesus for what he could do for me: healing me, making life easier, getting into Heaven, etc. It was a radical shift in my theology and subsequently my discipleship when I came to understand that Jesus is valuable simple because he is. It is liberating to understand God as intrinsically valuable: that if God hadn’t created anything—no time, no space, no universe—that God would still be worthy of worship, honor, and praise.

Today, when you pray to God, only thank God for existing. Thank God for being intrinsically valuable. See if it frees you to revel in God’s glory the way it did for me.

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